Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003440, Fri, 16 Oct 1998 15:01:38 -0700

Lo and Mickey? (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 1998 14:47:58 -0700 (PDT)
To: Nabokov <Nabokv-L@UCSBVM.UCSB.EDU>
Subject: Lo and Mickey? (fwd)

From: Galya Diment <galya@u.washington.edu>

Since we are discussing copyrights, the following article about the new
law may be of interest to subscribers. I learnt from it, for example, that
if Lolita were a cartoon character, her name would have been trade-marked.
Maybe that's what DN should focus on instead of going after Ms. Pera.
This way next time another manufacturer wants to introduce the "Lolita"
line in underwear, they would have to obtain first DN's permission and
approval for designs.

Galya Diment

Mickey Mouse Coypright Extended


.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Facing the loss of their exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse,
Donald Duck and other cartoon stars, Walt Disney Co. executives led a
successful lobbying campaign to secure an extra 20 years of protection for
their U.S. copyrights.

Congress passed the legislation, which now awaits President Clinton's
signature, to extend the copyrights that otherwise would have expired
beginning in 2003 .

Chairman Michael Eisner took his concerns directly to Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott, R-Miss. The company's political action committee also contributed
to key lawmakers.

``We strongly indicated our support for the measure,'' said Ken Green, a
spokesman for Disney, whose copyright on Mickey Mouse was scheduled to expire
in 2003, on Pluto in 2005, on Goofy in 2007 and on Donald Duck in 2009.

Richard Taylor, a Motion Picture Association of America spokesman, said Disney
worked very hard on the issue. MPAA also used its own heavyweight lobbyist:
its president, Jack Valenti, who called on his own decades-long contacts with
legislators to move the bill.

The change in the law allows corporations to have exclusive rights for a total
of 95 years, instead of 75 years as currently is the case. For individuals,
such as authors and songwriters, it extends copyrights to a total of 70 years
after death, rather than 50 years.

Copyrights allow the owner to control the reproduction and distribution of a
creative work, such as movies or books. Once the copyright expires, anyone can
use the character or publish the book without getting permission or paying

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's courts
and intellectual property subcommittee, said the extensions give American
inventors and creators the same copyright protection as those in Europe. The
European Union extended its copyrights by 20 years in 1995.

``It gives our intellectual property a fair shake in the rest of the world,''
Coble said. ``I view this as a no-lose for America.''

The battle for copyright protection pitted well-known corporations like Disney
and Time Warner against librarians and consumer organizations. The American
Libraries Association, for example, urged its 54,000 individual members to
call their local lawmakers and urged them to reject the change .

``You have to have some sort of incentive for people to write books and create
films, but it's not supposed to go on forever,'' said Jamie Love, director of
the Consumer Product on Technology, a group affiliated with consumer advocate
Ralph Nader. ``It's supposed to enter the public domain and everyone is
supposed to have access to it.''

In addition to its face-to-face lobbying campaign, Disney also gave campaign
contributions. Of the 13 initial sponsors of the House bill, 10 received
contributions from Disney's political action committee. The largest donations,
$5,000 apiece, went to Coble and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., a senior member
of the Judiciary Committee.

On the Senate side, eight of the 12 sponsors received Disney contributions.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill's chief sponsor,
received $6,000, second only to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who represents
Disney's home state of California and is up for re-election this fall. Disney
gave $1,000 to Lott on June 16, the same day he signed up as a bill co-
sponsor. That was a week after Lott met with Eisner.

In the end, the libraries and consumer groups did win some concessions. During
the final 20 years of copyright protection, libraries, schools and archives
were given some broader use of copyright materials without having to get the
permission of the copyright owner.

AP-NY-10-16-98 1608EDT